26 November 2016

A three-bird post

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

Despite what I said in an earlier post, I DID come across Amur Falcons again once or twice in the autumn.  Here are a few shots of one of these.
Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis


Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis
 It's a co-incidence the White Wagtail is in the frame, the AF paid it no heed whatsoever.

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

(Asian) Red-rumped Swallows - not an everyday bird, so worth an effort to photograph if conditions suit.  Every individual seems to be differently streaked.
Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropsis daurica


Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropsis daurica

Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropsis daurica

Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropsis daurica

Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropsis daurica


Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropsis daurica

Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropsis daurica

Finally, Peregrine Falcon - this one has been around Mai Po for at least a couple of weeks
Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus

Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus

Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus

Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus

It's a cool 12 degrees outside today, I went birding but gave up due to the rain.

Must be a sign of my  - Ahem - "Maturity" !

15 November 2016

John and Roger’s Most Excellent Tidal Adventure

mostly Eurasian Wigeon


Yesterday, November 14th, the rising tide did exactly what it was predicted to do, and stopped at the “old” boardwalk hides at the appointed hour - about 10:00hrs.

Eastern Buzzard - Buteo japonicus

Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola


But I’m getting ahead of myself - Roger Muscroft and I got out to the farthest hide and enjoyed a couple of hours as the tide rose in front of us and the sun shone from behind.

Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor

Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia

Caspian Tern - Hydroprogne caspia

(left) Pallas's Gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus



A number of winter’s “Usual Suspects” were on show, with a couple of more unusual birds as well.

Then, after the rising waters had swirled around the outermost hide. we retreated to the oldest boardwalk hides for the final act. There we found a diminishing tongue of wet mud, with the tide still rising.

Chinese Pond Heron - Ardeola bacchus


Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta


At the tide's peak, a variety of shorebirds -  including these Pacific Golden Plover -  had advanced reasonably close to the hides.

Pacific Golden Plover - Pluvialis fulva


Pacific Golden Plover - Pluvialis fulva

As the tide fell again, the birds seemed unsure what to do, until they were cleared off the tideline by this Peregrine.

A natural climax to a fine morning's birding.  it was time to leave.

Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus

Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus


“Most Excellent*, Dude !"


* The internet; - home of hyperbole !


10 November 2016

Asian and Northern House Martins - Tai Sang Wai


Northern House Martin - Delichon urbicum
Tai Sang Wai, Hong Kong



A cold front, some unseasonal rain, and hirundines were low over the commercial fishponds at Tai Sang Wai today.

There were about two dozen House Martins whirling around, and we noticed that some (well, 2 or 3) were displaying bigger white rumps than most of the others.


Tai Sang Wai, Hong Kong

So we had a chance to compare and contrast Asian House Martins - a regular passage and winter bird - and Northern House Martins - still fewer than ten records.  (Actually HK's sixth record involved 17 Northern House Martins on 31st Dec 2015, so most of our keenest twitchers would have nailed those.)

(And a seventh occurrence in mid-January this escaped my attention earlier....)

Asian House Martin - Delichon dasypus


Northern House Martin - Delichon urbicum
Asian House Martin - Delichon dasypus
Northern House Martin - Delichon urbicum

But still, there they were, whizzing about in the cold pouring rain, the fishpond insects obviously driven very low.

Asian House Martin - Delichon dasypus
Northern House Martin - Delichon urbicum


A few other "fishpond habitat" birds were about, too.
Richard's Pipit - Anthus richardi
Common Starlings - Sturnus vulgaris

Eastern Buzzard - Buteo japonicus


Elsewhere there were Richard’s Pipits and three Common Starlings.  The Starling is a scarce winter visitor here.  

An Eastern Buzzard lurked in the pond side grass nearby.

6 November 2016

Last breaths of Autumn ?

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

A few days ago I found a couple of Amur Falcons  at Tsim Bei Tsui.  I was confident that these two birds would presage  regular sightings over the following couple of weeks.  Well, these are the only ones I've seen this autumn.  However, other people have seen them here and there.
Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis


Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

Last week there were a couple of cool, autumnal mornings at the Mai Po boardwalk with the kind of bright light one only expects in mid-summer.   A Black-capped Kingfisher took up station on the mudflat.

Black-capped Kingfisher - Halcyon pileata

Black-capped Kingfisher - Halcyon pileata

On a different mudflat - at Nam Sang Wai - HK's other "Halcyon", White-throated Kingfisher. Looking at the colours of these, you'd never confuse the two.

White-throated Kingfisher - Halcyon smyrnensis

White-throated Kingfisher - Halcyon smyrnensis


Extending a "kingfisher" theme, a Pied Kingfisher showed well at Nam Sang Wai, too.  
Pied Kingfisher - Ceryle rudis

Pied Kingfisher - Ceryle rudis

Finally, back to the ever-reliable* mudflats at Mai Po, where an Osprey was kind enough to fly reasonably close to the Cathay/Birdwatching Society hide. 

With a fish this size he wasn't going to do the usual " Up,up, and away! " disappearing act they so usually seem to do.

(* when the tide is high)

(Western) Osprey - Pandion haliaetus

(Western) Osprey - Pandion haliaetus

(Western) Osprey - Pandion haliaetus

(Western) Osprey - Pandion haliaetus

Like every other shot in this post these photos are quite heavily cropped.  

I saw my first Daurian Redstart of the winter only yesterday. Surely winter is upon us.